PUBLIC sector fleets, including those run by NHS trusts and police forces, have been urged to increase their use of alternative fuels.
An independent environmental adviser and member of the Government's Cleaner Vehicles Task Force told delegates at the inaugural Public Sector Fleet Conference 2003 there was a low take-up of alternative fuels among all fleets, including the public sector.
Don Potts, speaking at the event, hosted by Automotive Leasing, said: 'Just like the corporate sector, the public sector is reluctant to turn to alternative fuels, even though they cost half the price of petrol and diesel at the pumps. This is perhaps because they don't trust the technology, the effects on residual values and are unclear on how or where to refuel.'
He said these were fundamental issues that the industry needed to address and urged delegates, which included NHS trusts, police forces and local authorities, to be more aware of environmental issues when assessing their fleet requirements.
He urged fleets to think about their internal company policies and ensure drivers and directors understand the issues.
The conference also heard from Kevin Clinton, road safety adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), who addressed the issue of employers' responsibilities to their drivers.
Clinton said companies should develop a risk management approach, carrying out risk assessments, putting in place internal policies on work-related driving and prioritising drivers who were high risk and needed training quickly.
He said: 'Employers can have an impact on risk. A company's procedures could inadvertently increase the risk of their staff being involved in an accident – for example, requiring staff to drive too far in a day.'
Professor Oliver Carsten, director of research for the Institute of Transport Studies at Leeds University, told delegates about a new safety system called Intelligent Speed Adaptation (Fleet NewsNet April 17).
Trialled by Leeds University, the system uses satellite navigation to record where a car is and at what speed it should be travelling. If the driver exceeds the speed limit, the system will apply the brakes and the accelerator will be rendered useless until the limit has been reached.